The world lost a special little light this week as we had to bid farewell to one very unique basenji dog named Phineas. Our happy little trio has become a duo for now. It’s never easy to say goodbye to a furry friend, but perhaps “goodbye” is the wrong word. After all, they never leave our hearts. And, I know for many of you who follow my rambles, you’ve come to know Phineas as well. Indeed, I think he always thought he was quite famous and that he would be remembered for years to come across the globe. At least, that’s the persona he seemed to have. And, losing a third of a trio leaves Philippe and I a bit off balance, like a leg of a stool that suddenly gives way. I wish I had better words for times like these, but words can come up short in matters of the heart. What I can say is that I’ll miss that little dog and cherish every memory we’ve shared in our short time together for a lifetime.
While I typically share nearly everything that happens here, I didn’t mention that Phineas was diagnosed with cancer at the end of last year. It was more personal than I could have ever realized and I chose to keep that bit private. He had an inoperable tumor, and though we managed to keep him comfortable and with us for a bit longer than was expected, the end was always quite near. Philippe and I were grappling with that horrible choice of when it was going to be time to let him go. Yet, the first item on that checklist is a loss of appetite and Phineas was always still quite interested in hobbling over for a treat. I made the comment that if he was no longer able to eat, he would probably make the decision for us.
On the night before he passed, he turned down a treat for the first time in his entire life. And, when we awoke the next morning, we found that he’d died in his sleep. It was peaceful, and for a moment I felt a bit guilty as a sense of relief washed over me. I was relieved that Philippe and I didn’t have the make the choice for him. Relieved that he never had to suffer and be in any pain. And, even a bit impressed that he managed to never miss enjoying his food and leave before a big snowstorm the following day. He always hated the snow.
He was a constant part of our lives and our daily routine. A routine that changed, and no longer includes him. We still catch ourselves looking at his spot on the couch to check in on him, or thinking that we need to take him out before we go to bed. But he’s not here anymore. Those soft, and sometimes not so soft snores are no longer a part of our lives. Instead, those little sounds have been replaced by a profound silence. While I know that nothing wonderful lasts forever, it’s still tough to imagine it ever ending while that wonderful thing is happening. Moments with Phineas were never anything I took for granted, but I wasn’t focused on our future, only cherishing the now. Each little kiss on his forehead before we went to sleep at night. Kisses I won’t be able to give anymore, but they still feel just as real in my memories. I’d kiss the top of his head each evening, including that last one. And, each time, he smelled just like a puppy. It was just like that first day when I brought him home from the shelter.
From that moment on, we’ve shared over a decade of special moments and memories. He was there through some of the most turbulent times in my life along with some of the most incredible. Moments so special that they move beyond a simple remembrance and almost become lore. Philippe and I had a very detailed narrative that we had created for Phineas, and though we know it was mostly imagined, it still felt perfectly real. We know that he’s never going to leave us, and that he’ll likely be there still judging us as we adopt another dog. A tiny voice in our ear telling us what we should and shouldn’t do next. There will certainly be another furry companion coming in the near future. We love dogs and our big hearts will burst if we’re not able to share that love. There’s no replacement for Phineas, to be sure, but there’s always another love story out there waiting to be told. In moments like these, I just wish I could find the words to better tell the ending to this one.
I know I should say more. I’m sure there are so many things I’m forgetting to mention. But, when you lose something so special and important, it’s often difficult to remember all of the things that surely must matter. What I can say is that even while my heart is breaking, I still haven’t lost my sense of hope. I still remember that moment when Phineas first came to live with me, and the even more amazing moment when he first met Philippe. I’m thrilled that I was able to share him with all of you, and that you could be part of his amazing little story, and indeed, meet some of his friends and even hear from him directly.
Somewhere between what I imagined and the simple moments that truly happened every single day, there’s a rich picture of an exceptional little life. And though I don’t have all of the words to express what I’m feeling today, I have already captured so many of them here over the years. So, I’ll simply say that I’m truly lucky to have been a part of this incredible dog’s life. While goodbye is just used to express parting, there’s another word that’s used to share good wishes as well. That feels more appropriate for this extraordinary little being. So, with all of my aching heart I’ll continue to hold every memory close while I attempt to hold back tears and find the soulful courage to lovingly say, “Farewell, Phineas…”
About the Doodlewash
Da Vinci Paint Co.: Yellow Ochre, Gold Ochre, Opus (Vivid Pink), Terra Cotta, Cobalt Turquoise, and Ultramarine (Green Shade), Indigo. ZIG Cartoonist Mangaka Pen with black ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book.